Selecting and modelling remnant AGNs with limited spectral coverage
Quantifying the energetics and lifetimes of remnant radio-loud active galactic nuclei (AGNs) is much more challenging than for active sources due to the added complexity of accurately determining the time since the central black hole switched off. Independent spectral modelling of remnant lobes enables the derivation of the remnant ratio, Rrem (i.e. ‘off-time/source age’); however, the requirement of high-frequency (≳5 GHz) coverage makes the application of this technique over large-area radio surveys difficult. In this work, we propose a new method, which relies on the observed brightness of backflow of Fanaroff–Riley type II lobes, combined with the Radio AGN in Semi-Analytic Environments (RAiSE) code, to measure the duration of the remnant phase. Sensitive radio observations of the remnant radio galaxy J2253-34 are obtained to provide a robust comparison of this technique with the canonical spectral analysis and modelling methods. We find that the remnant lifetimes modelled by each method are consistent; spectral modelling yields Rrem = 0.23 ± 0.02, compared to Rrem = 0.26 ± 0.02 from our new method. We examine the viability of applying our proposed technique to low-frequency radio surveys using mock radio source populations, and examine whether the technique is sensitive to any intrinsic properties of radio AGNs. Our results show that the technique can be used to robustly classify active and remnant populations, with the most confident predictions for the remnant ratio, and thus off-time, in the longest lived radio sources (>50 Myr) and those at higher redshifts (z > 0.1).
Publication titleMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Department/SchoolSchool of Natural Sciences
PublisherOxford University Press
Place of publication9600 Garsington Rd, Oxford, England, Oxon, Ox4 2Dg
Rights statementThis article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.Copyright (2022) The Authors.